Monday, June 30, 2008

The Big Toe Wins...this time

It's been a quiet blogging week with not much else happening in NE Ohio except for rain, miles, more rain, and more miles. This past week was supposed to be my biggest mileage week ever. However, a well planned "plan" doesn't always come to fruition as we all hope it would. Originally, I drafted this blog entry on Friday afternoon and I made reference to the 32 mile trail run I was doing on Saturday morning at 4am. I still hit the trails at Pine Lane at 4:05am with the intent of doing the reverse BT50K course. OK, step back two days first: I did a muddy, thunderous, rainy 11 miles with the VR group on Thursday night. It was my one two-a-day of the week and I felt great. 17 miles that day. When I got home that night, the top left of my right foot's big toe was red, sore to the touch, and slightly swollen. Kinda felt like an ingrown toenail. Friday was a scheduled day off but it was still sore. Saturday night, I popped 800mg of ibuprofen hoping to mask the "discomfort" for early Saturday morning. By the time I got to the Boston Store Saturday morning, the big toe was highly upset! I really think all the sloshing around lately in the mud on 300+ mile trail shoes was the culprit. So now what? I planned for and was out here for a quality trail run. Instead, I'm really ticked off at the situation and I'm only 4.1 miles in. It's 4:45am and I know the VR group is meeting at 7am at Lock 29 so I decide to exit the trail and hit the roads. I figured I could control the discomfort on asphalt and just run until it was time to meet up at 7. Unfortunately, I was covered in mud and had mud-water soaked trail shoes on. I headed up Stine Rd. (ya know, that never-ending uphill?), to Major Rd., to Oak Hill. By this time, I'm running "with" traffic so as to put my right foot on the camber of the road to relieve pressure from my right foot. It really wasn't working. As I ran, I was trying to figure out where to go to fill in the time before 7 and I thought heading to the Covered Bridge and doing some of the BR100 course would be good, but by the time I got halfway down Oak Hill, I decided to just suck up the pride, and head in the direction of my car at Pine Lane. I jumped in at the Oak Hill trail head and took the trail to Riverview. Amazingly, the Oak Hill trail was incredibly dry. What a contrast to the Buckeye Trail which has been overused lately and its conditions show it. Equal amounts of rain but worlds apart in condition. Once I got to Riverview, I felt 30 miles into a run when in reality, my Garmin read just over 11. I passed some early-starters from VR. All people I knew, so of course I was tempted to join them, but the little voice inside said "Get your tail back to the car!!!!" I obeyed and continued on. Back at the car, Mr. Garmin read a miserable 14 miles and Mr. Big Toe had a few choice words to say....not so appropriate for my "family friendly" blog! As soon as I pulled away from Pine Lane, the heavy rains started yet again. The rest of the day, Marjie and I took a day to ourselves and traveled south to Amish country. It turned out to be a relaxing, yet tiresome, day. We wrapped it up at the movies to see "Get Smart" with Steve Carell. If you like "The Office" and need a good laugh, go see this movie! Sunday morning, the toe felt no better and for the first time in a long time, I took a Sunday off. I love Sunday morning runs around home but common sense prevailed.

Now it is Monday morning just before 5am. The toe feels much better today, although still a bit red. All other systems are a go! I'm going to put on my heavy-cushioned Brooks Glycerin's and go for an easy run this morning and see how it goes. I'm staying off the trails this week with the intent of giving my legs a break from the sloshing around of mud running. I'll hit them again for the BR100 training run this Saturday night. We're starting at 9pm and running from mile 70 to the the dark. This should be a great training run. PLEASE, no more rain!!!! Let the trails recover!!!

With all the miles, I thought I'd take a break to sum up my fueling and equally important, my recovery strategy.

1. On training runs, my electrolyte of choice and also the electrolyte used in the BR100 and BT50K, is Hammer's Heed. Heed provides steady, consistent energy, buffers lactic acid, and helps prevent cramping. Yea, some folks don't care for it's bland taste, but that's because it lacks all the junk (ie: high fructose corn syrup) that would sweeten it. (ie: Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)

2. To compliment Heed in one hand-held bottle, the other hand carries Hammer's Perpetuem. Perpetuem has a unique formula of complex carbs, soy protein, healthy fats, and a variety of key auxiliary nutrients that helps preserve muscle tissue, maximize fat utilization, and also helps buffer lactic acid. This is most commonly used in multi-hour endurance events.

3. To help prevent the cramping I often get under my ribs on my right side and to help hydration, I take 2-3 Endurolyte salt tabs (by Hammer) per hour. These, I've learned, have got to be kept dry inside a baggy. Without preservatives (as no Hammer product has), things won't hold up to moisture. During the Green Jewel 100K, I didn't know this and they all disintegrated in my back shorts pocket. What a mess! These also provide a dose of electrolytes.

4. Outside of an actual event, the only solid food I take is Pure Fuel. Flavor-of-choice on-the-run is Blue Blaze. It seems to hold up the best in moisture and heat. I eat 1/2 a bar once per hour. During an event, I'll partake of aid station goodies such as PB&J, salted nuts, etc.

5. Recovery: I really don't think many runners focus on post-run recovery. It's a proven fact that your body is screaming for the right nutrients immediately following exercise. The first 15 minutes are huge and that continues for the next hour. After that, your body's ability to utilize and put to use "good stuff" greatly diminishes. It is crucial with high mileage that in order to recover well for your next run and rebuild damaged muscle tissue that you "feed" your body with what it needs. I'm no scientist but I do read a lot about this. Hammer (again!) has done the research and their products fill the role. In this case, I use Recoverite. Recoverite supplies the proper 3:1 ratio of complex carbs and the highest quality whey protein isolate, along with L-glutamine, antioxidants, and more electrolytes. Muscle tissue is rebuilt, muscle glycogen is restored and post-run soreness is minimized. Case-in-point: my day-after runs after a really long run are much easier and enjoyable as compared to before when I took nothing. I mix this with water or even better, fresh orange juice.

6. Daily Diet: as many of you have read (see January 1st blog entry), my diet consists of a lot of Kashi products (all contain the 7 Whole Grains, no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), etc.), whole wheat products, between 1/2 to 3/4 gallon of water per day, minimal caffeine, at least 3 pieces of fruit per day, and some other good stuff. One thing I've grown fond of is low-fat cottage cheese with Bush's Dark Red kidney beans. Yea, it sounds gross but it's really good and a great source of protein. Plus, those red beans contain lots of good stuff. Trust me! Give it a try! Outside of that, I basically stay away from enriched products and things that contain HFCS. Of course, an occasional night out breaks these rules!

With all that said, let me say that I have NFI (no financial interest) in Hammer whatsoever. I simply believe in their products and their quality. You can find all of it at Vertical Runner in Hudson....also NFI!!!

A few other tidbits:

a. The Olympic Trials for Track & Field have begun in "Track Town USA"...aka Eugene, OR, at Hayward Field. A lot of the broadcast coverage happens while many of us sleep so it's time to set the DVR to not miss any of the action. Will Prefontaine's record be broken??? PRE LIVES!!!! Full broadcast schedule here. Also, on my t0-do list is the Eugene Marathon. Held the first weekend each May, it has been highly rated and runs on many of the trails that Pre trained on.

b. Thanks to Chef Bill for taking his camera in the rain on Thursday night's MUDDY trail run. Lightning, thunderstorm warnings, and a very muddy trail didn't keep 12 runners from showing up! Call us crazy! Check out Chef Bill's blog here for the pics.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Can't I just have a relaxing trail run?

THAT was the goal. With a very abnormal week of heavy trail running, Friday was planned to be my one two-a-day of the week. All week, my girls were at VBS in Kent. It was closer to head to the trails for a few hours than to head back home so I "ran" at the opportunity. So Friday arrives and I get in an easy 6 pre-dawn before work with the plan to run Pine Lane to Boston Store and back in the evening. I don't know what it is about the trails and especially a segment I know so well...I can't just chill out and take it easy when I feel good. It was about 76F, low humidity, and sunny skies. The sun really didn't matter as the trail is heavily covered by trees. By the way, if you ever want some "alone time" on the trails, Friday night is a great time to get it. Very quiet, empty parking lots, and the trail to yourself. That became more evident as the run progressed as I saw more critters than at any other time. From chipmunks, rabbits, deer, and loud-singing birds, I was surrounded by nature celebrating together on an awesome summer evening. (Did you know Friday was the official first day of summer?!?! Yea!)

Anyway, I get to Boston and the Garmin reads 35min, 28sec for 4.1 miles on the Buckeye Trail. I don't know about you, but I was dang happy about that. That's under 9min per mile on a hilly/technical trail. That's where the time trial was realized and I turned back to try and do it again. Felt great all the way back but came up 2min shy of an equal split time. Maybe I started to daydream a bit on the way back? Regardless, it was an awesome night on the trails.

This weekend is a Navy drill weekend so my heart was on the trails in the park but my physical self was parked in Cleveland. That means that my weekend long-run is not happening this weekend but I still managed to get in 50 miles so far this week. Next week should be back up over 60 miles and hopefully near 70. I'm looking forward to the Thursday night trail run with a bunch of great friends on the Buckeye Trail followed by a VERY early start on Saturday morning with 30+ miles.

OK, I'm now 4 weeks from the Buckeye Trail 50K and 6 weeks from my first 100-miler...the Burning River 100. My overall goal is to be on my legs as long as possible each week to help build endurance and stamina. My longest run each week will be on trails completely as the majority of the BR100 is on trails. Outside of that, I will work in some mid-week tempo and threshold runs with one or two two-a-days per week. Those runs will happen around my home in Rootstown on rural, asphalt, rolling country roads. Coming up on Saturday, July 5th, a group is forming to run from the 65 mile point at Happy Days Visitor Center to the finish in downtown Cuyahoga Falls...about a 35 mile run. We will start at 9pm and run through the night. This puts us running after being up all day and also puts us in the dark which is what we'll be in at this stage of the 100-miler. A perfect tune-up for the event. This run happens 4 weeks out from the BR100.

I've gotta give a shout-out to Jim Chaney for launching the live webcast page for the BR100. Those not participating can login and see where their runner is on the course as well as race updates/comments. As runners reach aid stations, their time will appear in nearly real-time. You can also click on any station or runner for more details. As well, there will be a camera focused on the finish line...refreshing every 15 seconds. This allows family/friends regardless of where in the world they are, to follow someone and see them finish. As you will see at the site, the camera is clearly not on the finish line...I'm guessing we're seeing the inside of Jim's office! See it here.

The picture here is of the Covered Bridge. On the other side is the entry/exit of the Perkins Trail section of the course. We'll reach this aid station at mile 80.8 and again at mile 84.9 after finishing the Perkins Trail in between. Only 15 miles to the finish! Most of the country will be sound asleep at this time.

Happy Trails, everyone!

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Finding Balance

Balance. Everything in life requires it. Whether it’s your car, your desk at work, your dinner table, or even something simpler like “life,” balance is required. Entering into this craziness to run my first 100 mile run, I knew balance was going to be a challenge. Faith, family, work, sleep, miles, Miles, and more MILES….oh how to balance it all and escape unscathed and victorious! Well, with the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run 6 weeks from this weekend, fitting in the hours that is required to prepare certainly has presented its challenges. Plus, there’s just the plain ‘ol fact of with increased mileage and time on the feet, I’m just plain tired!

Since my last blog entry, I ran a very muddy but enjoyable 23 miler/4hr, 23min on the Buckeye Trail last Saturday…rain all along the way. I stuck to the summer version of the Buckeye Trail 50K which is 4 weeks away and trained along the course that I’m most un-familiar with. The plan was to get in 20-30 miles that day so I was happy. Mileage for the week ended with an even 60 miles. I’ve been trying to get into the 60-70 mile range from being in the 40-50 mile range per week that I’ve been at for over a year. I also tried taking 2 salt tabs once an hour to see how my stomach handled it. So far, so good. (salt tabs help hydration and help to stop/minimize cramping in multi-hour events) Sunday marked a new running week on my calendar so I ran an easy 8 before church around town. I absolutely love Sunday morning runs…no traffic, absolute quiet, and just the birds singing. Awesome. This week, my daughters have been at VBS (Vacation Bible School) in Kent which put me closer to the trails than to home so instead of driving home while they were there, I’ve been running trails. Monday, I knocked out 8 miles in 1hr, 12min on the Ledges, Pine Grove, and Boston Run trails. Last night, I ran part of the Burning River course from Pine Hollow to Bolanz and back…12 miles round-trip. GORGEOUS evening with temps around 59F, clearing skies, and low humidity. I saw lots of dear, rabbits, and a rare sight…a brilliant Bluebird. What an awesome bird! It was like seeing a neon blue bird flying out of the brush. This run covered miles 74 – 80 of the BR100. It was good to get out there and see this trail for the first time, especially since I’ll arrive there in the dark late on August 2nd. It’s used heavily by horses as the majority of it is the Valley Bridle Trail. So you can imagine how a lot of the terrain is…big ‘ol hoof prints in the ground…and when hardened up, could easily twist an ankle. A headlamp will be essential during this leg of the race. After this leg, I’ll reach the Covered Bridge aid station followed by a very tough and technical Perkins Trail which will again be quite the challenge in the dark. The good thing is that afterwards, I’ll only be about 16 miles from the finish! Thanks to Greg for running with me last night and providing some great company and conversation. (that's something we've become experts at since spending 13hrs together earlier this Spring at the Green Jewel 100K!)

Back to balance: it’s not easy but it sure is easier if you’re family is part of the equation and supports the training. My goal is to train when they are asleep (early morning runs like the one I’m about to head out on) but sometimes, that’s just not possible. Running does not define my life or me, but yea, it is certainly a big part of it, it just needs to know it’s place and fill it…with balance.

Looking ahead: I hope to continue to increase my mileage and multi-hour runs…both morning and night. There is a group run forming on the July 4th weekend that will cover the last 35 miles of the BR100 and start at 9pm to get used to running tired and in darkness as we will be on August 2nd/3rd. Before that, I’ll run my 4th ultra-marathon, the Summer Buckeye Trail 50K on July 19th.

Find your balance, prioritize, and live life to its fullest. We only get one shot at this!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2-a-Day & Eggs-n-Hummus

I'm really looking forward to the weekend...highs are supposed to be in the 70s...nice and comfy. Ohio just can't seem to make up it's mind...spring, summer, spring, summer...I'll take some more spring, thank you! Yesterday, however, was summer. In an effort to get my miles up into the 60-70 mile range, I've decided to start doing a "2-a-day" once a week. I've never run twice in the same day. So yesterday, I knocked out 8 before work...from 4:30am - 5:30am (yea, the alarm went off at 3:20am yesterday...ugh!) and then headed to the trails to meet up with Tracy, Ed, and Matt (left to right) at 4:45pm. The sun was bright and the thermometer read 88F...gonna be a hot one. So much for the 81F forecast! For those of you who don't know, Matt, Ed, and Tracy are speedy...more speedy than I on the roads. We met up at Happy Days and did the Haskell - Ledges - Pine Grove - Lake - Salt Run - Lake - rest of Pine Grove - rest of Ledges - back to Happy Days Loop. Quite a mouthful, eh? 9 miles in 1hr, 30min. That's haulin' on the trails especially with Salt Run thrown in there which is highly challenging and technical. Afterwards, I stopped by VR for some more Pure Fuel and at Heinen's for some dinner (sushi). I was NOT feeling good at all...nauseous to be precise. I ended up not feeling good the rest of the night and crashed hard at 9pm. I didn't even try to get a morning run in this morning...not gonna happen! I barely scraped my tail out of bed at 4:30am. Today was just a hydrate, hydrate, hydrate day. 2 runs and one in that heat did me in. Lesson? Get out there and do it MORE! Gotta acclimate to this heat...and soon. To that end, I did a very hilly 6 while the sun was high and it was 90F. So far, I'm at 37 miles for the week and am expecting to get 20-30 more at this Saturday's trail run...starting at 5:30am at the Boston Store.

Oh yes...the hummus and eggs in the title of today's blog: I had some extra hummus left over last week and thought it sounded good to go on an egg sandwich. Result: AWESOME! I'm no chef so microwaves are not off-limits to me so this is easy and simplistic.

Here it is:
2 slices whole wheat bread (toasted)
Hummus (plain flavor)
Egg Sandwich mix-ins:
- 2 eggs (or one if two is too much for ya!)
- shredded cheese of your choice
- crushed pepper
- Onion! Onion! by Tastefully Simple (or some onion-like spice from your cabinet)
- Garlic! Garlic! by Tastefully Simple (or some garlic-like spice from your cabinet)

Directions: in small microwaveable bowl, mix up your eggs and ingredients, microwave for about 1min, 10sec unless you have a super-powerful or super-weak microwave, spread hummus on bread, and after eggs have fully cooked (nothing "wet" on bottom!), place eggs on bread and enjoy! The hummus really makes this sandwich delicious. GREAT recovery meal, in my opinion. Good carbs from the whole wheat, some calcium in the cheese, and a bunch of muscle-building protein in the eggs. I haven't tried it, but I bet a thick, juicy slice of tomato would be perfect. ENJOY!

“I run because it’s my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I’m going where I’m going and I’m already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical exercise…it’s a consistent reward for victory!”
Sasha Azevedo, Runner Athlete

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Where did Spring go?

It seems like yesterday that the snow was higher than my mailbox and now the thermometer is hitting 90F. Spring, while it lasted, sure was nice. Along with heat and humidity comes the re-acclimatization to running in the heat. With the Burning River 100 less than 2 months away and knowing that this past weekend's weather could easily be the weather on August 2/3, I've got to get a lot of time out in it. As many of you know, I have vaso-vagal syncopy so dehydration is a big enemy of mine. Fighting against it is goal #1. Salt tabs, good electrolytes, and staying hydrated 24/7 has got to be a primary focus. I knew when I came back from an easy 8 miler this morning, no rain, and I was drenched that I've got to focus on that water...always. Yesterday, I knocked out 17 miles on the Boston-Oak Grove portion of the Buckeye Trail and it totally wiped me out. However, the trails were in awesome shape...amazing since we got so much rain earlier in the week. This week starts a few 2-a-days. I need to start "teaching" myself to run when I'm exhausted at the end of the day...after running early in the morning and working a regular work-day. Goal now is to ramp up to 60-70 miles per week from 40-50 miles per week where I've been for over a year.

Sorry for no pics today...too darn hot and humid to carry the camera yesterday...maybe on this Wednesday's night trail run I'll get some...we'll see.

I saw a commercial earlier today that happens to be posted on YouTube....shocker, huh?! If you have kids, you've heard the background music (from "High School Musical"). It was produced by The Foundation for a Better Life. Don't leave before you watch this! Be inspired!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Book Review: "She Calls Me Daddy"

How about a step aside from all the running talk? For many "regulars" of my blog, you may think all I do is run, sleep, eat, run, sleep, eat, and so on. There is actually several other pieces to the puzzle but today, I finished reading a book that I thought I'd review. To be honest, I rarely read a book cover-to-cover. Magazines such as Runner's World, Running Times, UltraRunning, Marathon & Beyond get read but books? Come on!

One area that I know that I will always be a "work-in-progress" in is that of a dad. When I recently heard of a great book titled "She Calls Me Daddy" by Robert Wolgemuth along with an interview of the author and his two adult daughters, I had to get it. "This is what I need!", I thought. "A blueprint to be a great dad!" It's easy with the busyness of life to forget to "stop and smell the roses" from time to time and focus on what really matters. I have only daughters and I was raised in a home with only brothers so I know I needed the help! The book reads very easily and the author starts each chapter with an ingenious illustration before he gets to the point. Very practical, easy to put into practice, and real life examples to learn from. Whether you have a newborn girl or a teenager, you can get a lot out of this. He covers 7 major topics: Protection, Conversation, Affection, Discipline, Laughter, Faith, and Conduct. Each chapter wraps up with a "Builder's Checklist"...sort of a play on us dads being "builders" of our daughters...a great summary of action points to start implementing. I really wanted to post an excerpt from the book but everywhere I look, there are copyright restrictions. The first link below has some. If you live locally in northeast Ohio, you can pick it up at Kent Logos for the same price as Amazon. Kent Logos is on the east end of the Kent car strip on Route 59.